Canada’s Conservative Leader Is Ousted


Once installed as leader, however, he quickly tacked left and alienated many among the party’s conservative branch with his attempt to broaden the party’s appeal. After he failed to win last fall’s vote, Mr. O’Toole was criticized for being a political clone of Mr. Trudeau, masquerading as a conservative.

Among other things, he abandoned a promise not to introduce a carbon tax and drew ire from some Conservative caucus members by abandoning a pledge to repeal Mr. Trudeau’s ban of about 1,500 models of military-style rifles.

He also sought to cast himself as a compassionate conservative, distancing himself from the party’s social conservatism on issues like L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion while reaching out to union members, a group that has traditionally supported the left of center New Democratic Party.

While the Conservatives did score a symbolic victory in the last election, winning the greatest share of the popular vote, the concentration of Conservative support in places like Alberta meant that it didn’t translate into the largest number of seats. Mr. O’Toole also came under criticism after the Conservatives failed to do well in electorally important urban centers like the Toronto area and Metro Vancouver.

Ahead ofWednesday’s vote, Mr. O’Toole was defiant, saying he had no intention of stepping down.

“I’m not going anywhere and I’m not turning back. Canada needs us to be united and serious!” he wrote in a series of tweets on Monday night, in which he framed the vote as a battle between anger and hope. “A winning message is one of inclusion, optimism, ideas and hope,” he wrote.

The son of a provincial legislator in Ontario, Canada’s largest province, Mr. O’Toole came to his party’s leadership with conservative credentials that included a military past. He studied at Canada’s Royal Military College and spent 12 years as a navigator in Canada’s then-aged fleet of ship-borne helicopters. He also founded True Patriot Love, a nonprofit organization supporting veterans and their families.

Trained as a lawyer, he worked at two large law firms in Toronto and later as corporate counsel at Procter & Gamble Canada. Then the resignation of a cabinet minister from the seat in his hometown electoral district in Durham, Ontario, presented an opportunity for him. He was elected to the seat in 2012.

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